With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma having battered the southern United States, we are all keenly aware of how devastating the power of nature can be. We are never truly prepared for its ferocity, and it generally wreaks havoc on our homes, possessions, and sometimes, tragically, even our family.
But despite its destructive power, the one thing it cannot destroy is the human spirit.
When a tornado was approaching an elementary school in Oklahoma, one first-grade teacher selflessly used her own body to protect and save her children’s lives from over 2,000 pounds of falling debris. The children were unharmed, but she was battered and bruised.
While she recovered, however, she received a mysterious gift that heralded an unexpected miracle.
In 2013, this first-grade teacher heard the sound of tornado sirens as a twister was about to hit her school.
On May 20th, 2013, Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, was right in the path of a devastating natural disaster. First-grade teacher Karen Marinelli remembered the bone-chilling sound of the tornado sirens as she and her three students, Liam, Damian, and Dacari were trapped in one of the school’s hallways.
“It’s going to hit,” Marinelli told KFOR News. “This is the craziest thing, I can’t believe it’s really going to hit.”
The tornado touched down near the school and proceeded to destroy the building. Her students began shouting as the sound and havoc caused by the tornado became all-encompassing.
“It sounds like a monster devouring something,” Marinelli told KFOR News.
Marinelli shielded her students with her body as over 2,000 pounds of debris fell on them.
Marinelli could not abandon her students. So, she did the only thing she could and sheltered the three 6-year-olds under her body to protect them from any debris that might fall on them.
That was when a 2,000-pound car slammed into the hallway. The car sent a shower of cinder blocks onto Marinelli, who was shielding the three terrified children underneath her. To make matters worse, the car also fell on top of the group.
Miraculously, the children were safe and completely unharmed. But Marinelli was not so lucky.
“She was injured bad,” one unnamed rescue worker told KFOR News. “We know she had broken legs, maybe both of them, and her back–she was hurt really bad.”
Though she did not lose her life, her injuries were significant—pulled ligaments, bruises and cuts, a sprained foot, and multiple fractures forced Marinelli to spend the next three months in a wheelchair.
The city of Moore, as well as the parents of the three children that Marinelli saved, decided to give back. They started a tornado relief fund for the beloved teacher, and soon gifts were pouring in from all over the country.
Gifts flooded from around the country — but one box was a mystery.
One gift took Marinelli by surprise—it was a box full of frilly little baby girl clothing.
“We both looked at each other, kinda at the same time, with a ‘do you think this is a sign?’” Marinelli said according to KFOR News. “‘Nah, this isn’t a sign.’”
Marinelli is a mother of four boys. Though she had always wanted a daughter, she and her husband had given up on that particular dream years ago.
“This house is all about rough, tumble, stinky, sports, everything,” Marinelli told KFOR News.
But then something amazing happened. As it turned out, Marinelli was pregnant, and their new baby was a girl.
“It just seems like it was meant to be,” Marinelli told KFOR News. “She was meant to be our blessing.”
Maybe it was. Marinelli gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl. And while the entire family and community celebrated, Marinelli admitted her home would change a bit due to the little, new addition.
“Definitely, probably going to be more pink in the house,” Marinelli’s eldest son said according to KFOR News.